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sells pieces from
the kilns of Japan's
Kaneta Masanao Exhibition, January 2003
Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tokyo
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Kaneta Masanao (1953 - ) is one potter who has not won the JCS (Japan Ceramic Society) award but who indeed deserves it. An eighth-generation Hagi potter, Kaneta's exhibition was at Mitsukoshi Department Store the same time (Jan. 2003) as the JCS exhibition.
Kaneta's achievement, in a nutshell, is to give the traditional Hagi tea ware a very sculptural feel. His pieces have unabashedly chunky forms. Some are mountainous tea bowls in creamy-white glazes; others are more rounded, recalling the bowls made by Chojiro, the founder of Raku, and have a mottled-blue ash glaze.
Everything Kaneta does is a grand statement in clay, no matter the size -- even down to his small sake cups. He uses a technique called kurinuki, in which he digs a form out of the clay instead of shaping it on a wheel. In the current Ibaraki Ceramic Museum's exhibition catalog, curator Todate Kazuko writes:
When he (Kaneta) changed his primary forming technique from throwing to carving in 1988, he made a clear choice to place the pursuit of form at the center of his pottery making. He felt the need to run away from the wheel which tended to 'shape the clay according to its own will' and to 'turn the potter into its slave.
In this stunning exhibition it was quite clear who was master. The chawan all had a presence unseen in Hagi before and his larger works with peeled back and sliced openings were ceramic sculptures of the highest level. This man has a sense and flair that, like Bizen's Kakurezaki Ryuichi, is breaking down conservative clay ways and allowing for clay possibilities to unfold---all within centuries old traditions. Kaneta is a major ceramic artist.
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